Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families Written Evidence

Annex 1


Tania and Susie's Story

  Tania and Susie, twins aged seven years, came into care due to concerns about their neglect at home. They have been in their current placement for a nearly a month. The foster carer asked the advocacy service to visit because the girls were very distressed. They didn't understand why they were in care; they were worried about their cat and other personal possessions and about where their mum was living and when they could see her. They want to know when they can go back to their old school. The advocate is liaising with the social worker and trying to arrange a visit for the girls to see their mum. She is struggling to get the social worker to understand the urgency of reassuring the girls. The advocate is helping the girls prepare what they want to say at their first review and has agreed to attend to support them in the meeting.

Ahmed's story

  Ahmed is 14; he has been accommodated on a full care order since he was 10. He has had numerous placements within the local authority and a history of being missing for considerable periods. As a result he was found an out of authority placement where he spent about 18 months. Whilst there Ahmed sustained serious injuries to his face and eye during an incident involving an older young man. Soon after Ahmed was returned to the local authority. Due to many changes of social worker and periods when his case was unallocated Ahmed's claim for Criminal Injuries Compensation has been ongoing for several years. He is understandably anxious and distressed when required to go into the details of the incident repeatedly. Unfortunately Ahmed's disillusionment with Social Services manifests in ways, which do not always help his cause, resulting in him having a reputation as a difficult young person. He has now been allocated his sixth social worker and he has refused to meet her, as `she'll only leave in a couple of months'. The deadline for the completion of the Criminal Injuries claim is getting close and the care home worker referred Ahmed to the advocacy service to help him progress the claim. He sees the advocate as different from `the social', he is helping him progress the claim and working on encouraging him to trust the new social worker.

Brendon's Story

  Brendon has a learning disability and very little speech. He spent five years with the same foster carers but due to a sudden change in their family circumstances he could no longer stay with them. Brendon was placed with a new foster family but with little time for introductions. He soon became distressed and his behaviour deteriorated. The new foster family couldn't cope and social workers couldn't find a new placement. In desperation he was moved to a mental health unit. An advocate was then introduced and over a period of time got to know Brendon and his way of communicating. The advocate was able to help Brendon keep in touch with the first foster carers and is working with the social worker to make sure Brendon is involved in planning a move to a more suitable placement.

Frankie's Story

  Frankie is 14 and spends long periods of time hospital as a result of his complex health needs. Many different staff provide his daily care needs. Frankie uses the Picture Exchange Communication System when he is at home and when he is well enough to go to school. Frankie's advocate soon realised that he had no pictures in his PECS file that related to the environment in hospital and as a result was struggling to communicate his preferences to the hospital staff. Once this was rectified the nursing staff were able to use the pictures to help explain to Frankie what was going to happen next in relation to his treatment. The advocate made sure Frankie had a transition review meeting even though he had not been in school for quite a while and helped Frankie prepare two important things that he wanted to say using pictures and symbols.

Jasmine's Story

  Jasmine is 15 and has been in care since she was very small. She has moved placements several times as staff have struggled to cope with her physical care needs. In her latest placement Jasmine seemed to be increasingly in conflict with the care staff. An advocate was introduced to Jasmine and having spent some time with her away from the unit, and building up her trust the advocate discovered Jasmine was feeling really constrained by the unit's rules and routine. She felt she wasn't being encouraged to make her own decisions or make friends away from the unit. She felt the staff were being too protective of her and wouldn't let her take any risks. Her advocate went along with Jasmine to her next review and supported her to be honest about how she was feeling. The review team arranged for the local person centred planning worker to get involved and with the support of her advocate Jasmine is preparing for her first person centred planning meeting.

Paul's story

  Paul, aged 13, contacted the advocacy service as he had been informed by children's services that they wanted to move him from his foster placement. Paul had visited the new placement but did not want to move as he was settled where he was and happy in his school. Children's services stated that the current placement has been made on a short-term basis and therefore they needed to move Paul. It was also their view that the carer was manipulating Paul to prevent the move.

  An urgent complaint was submitted in which the advocacy service requested that the move be frozen. Although this was agreed, children's services re-iterated their intention to move Paul although they were reluctant to discuss their reasons with him. The advocacy service stressed how important it was for the social worker to engage in a more open and honest dialogue with Paul in order that he could understand the reasons why he was being moved and so that his wishes and feelings played a central role within the planning process.

  A placement planning meeting was arranged in which Paul was able to contribute his views with the support of his advocate. In light of his wishes, it was agreed that the current carer should be re-assessed with regard to her ability to provide long term care. The assessment found no concerns and it was agreed that the young person could remain in his placement. Paul was pleased with the outcome but felt let down by children's services and angry that they had not listened to his views from the outset.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2008
Prepared 20 March 2008